The FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup is perhaps the biggest competition in the whole world, after the Olympic Games – The Greatest Show on Earth and for the football community, nothing is as a big as the World Cup. It is unarguably the most prestigious tournament for a professional football player or a coach, for whom, just being a part of the World Cup is an honour in itself.
The first international football match between two teams was played between arch rivals England and Scotland way back in 1872 ending in a goal less draw. The first ever international football tournament that was held was the 1884 British Home Championship in its inaugural edition. The concept of the tournament was a competition between the four nations of the United Kingdom – England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland and it was held over the next 100 years, being finally abolished after almost 100 years.
However, with the growing popularity of the sport, it was first integrated into the Olympic Games as a demonstration sport in 1900, and then recognised as an official sport in 1908. In the meantime, FIFA was founded in 1904 as the governing body for international football and they, too, tried to host a global football event. However, according to the official website of FIFA, their first attempts were deemed a failure and playing in the Olympic Games was the major honour in those days.
FIFA officially recognised football in the Olympic Games as the official World Championship for amateur players and took up the responsibility of hosting them. This was the official recognition of the Olympic Games as the first ever inter-continental competition for football, with 13 European teams and Egypt taking part in the Olympic Games of 1920. 1924 saw the beginning of the professional era in football and FIFA internationally and Uruguay won the Olympic Games of 1924 and 1928, becoming the first champions of an open world championship for football.
Spurred on by the success of the Olympic Games, Jules Rimet, the erstwhile president of FIFA pushed for the organisation to host its own inter-continental football championship outside of the Olympic Games and at the Amsterdam FIFA Congress of 1928, the resolution to host the inaugural World Cup. With Uruguay’s status as the official world champions, they were selected as the hosts for the tournament in 1930 and invitations were sent to a few governing bodies for football in different countries. Uruguay won the first competition, in what was to become a global phenomenon.
Since the first tournament in 1930, the FIFA World Cup has been held every 4 years except 1942 and 1946 and is now, the most prestigious as well as the most watched football competition in the world. There have been 19 editions of the FIFA World Cup held so far, with Brazil winning the most titles with 5. Since 2002, FIFA has expanded the honour of hosting the World Cup to developing nations with Japan-Korea hosting the 2002 edition and South Africa the 2010 edition, and this move has seen its popularity increase manifolds.